blog: archives

The Government is the Nanny of the State

It could have been the worst teaching night of my experience, talking for 2.5 hours about the role of government in business to first year Under-Grad Business students. (okay, we took a five minute break). It ended up not quite so bad after I hit on the metaphor of the Government being the Nanny of the State.

When the children play nice, Nanny gets on with her knitting. Catch a boo-boo? Run to Nanny. Misbehave? Watch out for Nanny. Playing the bully? Nanny takes the bully down. Best case scenario, Nanny stays away until it’s time for treats.

The consensus of the class was: “Keep Government out of business as much as possible.” “Only as a last resort.” “Well, if the economy is completely failing, then of course we do need Government to step in.” I will not rant politics because the general consensus is “Right now we need Nanny”.

One part of my presentation to take home for the customer-centric marketer was ‘The reason why some industries self-regulate: to avoid the imposition of external regulation’. The ad industry is a good example in many countries, where advertising standards are self-adopted, rather than deal with the government as the ombudsman of integrity in advertising. Financial markets were also self-regulating (:o(.

The key point to be made is that, when an industry regulates itself, it generally does so with the goal of protecting itself from the consequences of being regulated from elsewhere. Regulation that is seen to be done, is not designed to protect the average Joe. It protects the industry it serves from a greater imposition of authority. Kids playing by the rules to keep Nanny out, rather than to be really, really fair. Did I mention that Financial markets were self-regulating (:o(

I believe increasingly, that the standards by which all commercial activity will become judged is through the regulatory lens of the CUSTOMER. The customer represents the primary moral imperative to ensure business continuity, customer frequency and loyalty. I wonder how the class would have reacted if I had inserted the word CUSTOMER in place of government throughout the entire presentation? We are not so resistant to the actions of our customers within private enterprise as we are to the Nanny of the State..

The Nanny of the State certainly has the customer in mind in times of crisis. Stimulation of retail activity, Keynesian economics to prime the pump of consumer spending et al. When will the penny truly drop that, by applying the right integrity and values within our business and our marketing, we can bypass the Government and do very nicely?

Written By |Advertising Truths, Marketing Strategy, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Government is the Nanny of the State

You shall not covet

I have always been puzzled by the biblical text that puts “You shall not covet” as the finishing flourish of the 10 Commandments, as if this is more heinous than murdering, lying, cheating, stealing. There is no action involved. It is more about attitude. What’s the problem here? And what does it have to do with customer-centric marketing? (The committed acolytes at this point will intone, “Customer-centric marketing embraces Life, the Universe and Everything” in 6-part harmony).

But if you think for a moment about what can transpire in the commercial world, based on the desire to achieve what someone else has (that you have not) then you have a frequent motive for businesses, sometimes egregiously, sometimes sublimely lying, cheating and stealing, to achieve their goals. In the geo-political and ethnic world, you get war.

So, in a nutshell, covetousness is a great way to kill any chance of a relationship.

When I speak about the Goals-centric enterprise (in contrast to customer-centric), there is a question as to the motive behind the goals of the enterprise. Covetousness, some would say, is the root of ambition, of aspiration, of even invention. If the emotion exists there must surely be a positive angle.

Relationships are also goal-centred. It just comes out that the goal of a relationship is to give to each other in a harmonious state of reciprocity, not to take from each other in a duel of one-upmanship. Coveting is also about exercising Control: to manipulate the relationship so as to exact the most reward for oneself.

Media and advertising are playgrounds for the exercise of control. Share of Mind: what is that? It is the calculated manipulation of media to control the consumer. Marketers talk about it as if it were a game of marbles. Hey, isn’t a game of marbles also about control? It is in the nature of competition to exercise influence and control in order to achieve your goals. But it can go wrong, because when the drive to control gets out of control something Evil happens.

Customer-centric marketing is about building relationships based on the customer’s values, separate from the latent desire to control. To control is inherently human, but to dominate is problematic. In friendships and relationships we exercise control to create an environment in which our wishes are shared. Competition comes from other potential relationships. The best, best friend is the one with whom we share such a harmony that other potential relationships cannot compete. There is some element of control in all relationships, but it is maintained within a healthy, bi-lateral state.

When your product, service or business fully embraces all the values and needs that your customer has for that slice of their life, competition cannot breach the relationship. BUT, when your product, service or business takes on that covetous, goals-centric mentality, the customer will get shorted out at some point, when the price goes up or the quality goes down or the services are cut back, for the wrong reasons. Relationships can even endure hardship, if they are based on maintaining shared values. There is a marketing technique for reaching out to these values and building relationships. I call it Touch Marketing, and I use it all the time.

Back to topic: so, the root of all evil is Covetousness. And the remedy is honest-to-goodness relationship building: in politics, in war, and in business.

Written By |Customer Focus, Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on You shall not covet

Which End of the Telescope Do You Use?

If you had never seen a telescope before it would be reasonable to look through the large end. It is wider, offers more light, and it could be assumed its primary purpose was to shrink things. There is a natural tendency to put your goals first, even when your intention is to focus on the customer. So the customer is smaller, remote and subservient to your marketing goals. It’s a happy thought to many a brand marketer that if the customer had its eyeball at the opposite end of your telescope it would see you many times greater than reality.

By some quirk of our human nature (call it ego), we all see our own perspective in magnification and everyone else’s in minimilization. It is not a simple thing to switch the roles around. But the truth  is that we are judged, not from our own perspective, but from that of the customer.

For example: I consulted with a construction company to develop a marketing platform within a key vertical. After research and competitive analysis I presented the the strategy and execution framework. The VP Marketing announced that they had implemented the same strategy 4 years earlier and it had failed in the execution. It wasn’t until my presentation that they realized they had used the wrong end of the telescope.

You can have the right data, the right strategy and manage to completely alienate your target market by thinking that the telescope is pointed in your direction.

Written By |Marketing Strategy|Comments Off on Which End of the Telescope Do You Use?

MAKING THE CUSTOMER THE CENTER OF YOUR UNIVERSE

One of a series of white papers on Touch Marketing®  Click here TouchMarketing White Paper to download the document.

Written By |Advertising Truths, Brand Integrity, Customer Focus, Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing|Comments Off on MAKING THE CUSTOMER THE CENTER OF YOUR UNIVERSE

Honesty In Relationships: Part II

Honesty In Relationships: Part II

Absolute Truth

If there is such a thing as absolute truth, it exists outside of this world. As much as we regard honesty, integrity and trust as roadmaps for relationships, they are relative terms. This represents a risk to business continuity. Any decision you make could compromise your business relationships because of the external impression created by your actions. This occurs even at the most basic level: to choose with whom you want to have a relationship. It is a practical need, yet it is also confining. Since “you can’t be all things to all people” your representation of your well-intentioned relationship is exclusive to these choices. When those whom you exclude put you on the wrong side of their loyalty values we call it pigeon-holing. Marketers are often confounded by typecast restrictions that have been molded around a business by customers with whom it has never had a relationship. And most customers depend on pigeon-holing to sort through their decisions.

Theory of Relativity in Business Relationships

There is a relativity formula to relationships:

THE BENEFIT DERIVED FROM A RELATIONSHIP IS COEFFICIENT TO THE PERCEIVED VALUE OF THE RELATIONSHIP.

From this we learn that the perceived value of the relationship will increase or decrease depending on the value of the benefits gained. Also that the desire to establish a relationship is based on the expectation of its rewards.

Value-Add

The critical idea is that, whenever the benefits gained exceed the perceived value of the relationship, then the perceived value will increase to match the benefits. This is how ‘value-add’ expands loyalty and frequency into business continuity. Adding value makes the difference between a performer and a super-performer in business relationships. It is the ingredient that can break a business out of the mold of typecasting e.g. to enable a volume discount producer to enter a luxury market (Toyota/Lexus). It is also the most challenging component of sustaining a relationship, as the constantly rising of the bar of expectations represents greater consequences to underperformance. You can never go back to ‘ordinary’, because that would be a reduction in value. But, that issue aside. everyone can live with thought that continually adding value creates a consensus in relative truth.

Pull the Wrong Lever And You Fall

Perceived value and benefit rewards are so closely linked that misguided use of any levers in the relationship can create schism and distrust.

Take, for example, wholesale price discounting: once the customer has experienced a price discount, this benefit reward can easily become a defining aspect of the relationship. The customer expects the lower cost. In counterpoint, the retailer gets reduced benefit from the transaction, so its sense of value decreases. We now have relativity divergence in truth and trust: the customer’s benefits have increased and the retailers value of the relationship has decreased. Consequently, the retailer may compromise the value of the relationship to the customer, by merchandising lower quality goods, reducing customer service, reducing product selection etc. Retailer’s view of truth: my customer is a price chiseller.

Customer’s view of truth: my retailer is a price chiseller.

Neither position might be true. The reason for the contradiction is that the retailer used a market lever that was counter-productive to increasing the value of the relationship.

The 365-Day Sale

Price in retail has become the most common lever used by retailers to lure customers, and in juxtaposition, customer service and satisfaction has dropped. It has been replaced by refunds, warranties, and call centres. Recall our formula for relativity: the customer expects more from the relationship relative to price, but experiences the negative impact on other important components of the relationship such as service, quality or choice. When relative truths are in conflict, each party will withdraw to its corner, exploit for its own interests and abdicates loyalty when these are not served.

Addiction Vs. Loyalty

It is the predicament of our market mentality that the most successful business is the bottom-feeder in the cost/price matrix. I would argue that customers are not loyal to Wal-Mart – they are addicted to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has built its customer relationship on the price lever, and expands the benefit rewards it brings to its customer by expanding its range of merchandise with the same promise. By focusing on this one lever, Wal-Mart has worked this relativity formula consistently into tremendous profitability. How does the formula work for Wal-Mart? The benefit its customer gains from shopping at Wal-Mart (price) is maximized by consistently shopping at Wal-Mart for all its needs, and so the perceived value of the relationship to the customer has matured into a dependency. The consequences to the retail sector are widespread. Everyone is chipping away at price and we live with a discount mentality. There is no consumer segment that Wal-Mart will shirk from if it can consistently achieve its goals. PRICE is now the relative truth that has redefined many marketing relationships and reduced them to just this one lever.

But price-sensitivity is not the only lever for the sustainability of a relationship. As long as it is built on honesty and trust as defined by the customer’s needs within the relationship there are other levers that influence purchase decisions.

Segue

I had planned to spend more time in this entry discussing these other levers. Let’s say for now that the purpose of this entry – to demonstrate how truth is relative to the customer and that a practical business action could have a correspondingly unfavourable customer reaction – is served. Every action a business takes has consequences that are broader and deeper than it usually prepares for. This is because it rarely focuses on truth relative to its customer’s perspective.

Written By |Advertising Truths, Brand Integrity, Customer Focus, Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Honesty In Relationships: Part II

Honesty in Relationships: Part I

When goals-achievement is the number one priority of a business, the temptation to disguise weaknesses is a real challenge for marketers and legal departments. I remember a copywriter complaining that her clients always ruined her copy by insisting on accuracy. The creative fabrication sold the product so much better.

Too many businesses market their beliefs without testing their own integrity. Expressions like ‘Best’, ‘Leading’, ‘#1’, ‘Lowest Price’, ‘Largest Inventory’, ‘Top Rated’ and ‘Most Successful’ appear throughout marketing copy. The customer who finds a lower price elsewhere will not trust such a claim again. Once the veil of honesty is damaged by the revelation of deception, whether big or small, trust evaporates and is hard to recover.

The Alchemy of Concealment

The temptation to deceive or conceal the truth is part of the human psyche.

Q: “How’s business?” A: “Busy.”

The truth remains agreeably hidden. But, when truths are revealed there can be significant consequences. Consider the impregnable Bike Lock that was opened using a Bic pen. Is it possible that the market leader in bike security products didn’t want its vulnerability to be known? Or was it an unfortunate embarrassment? However framed, doubt formed in the mind of the customer. There are PR companies that specialize crisis communications, when a damaging truth is exposed in an unforgiving world of customers demanding an explanation. Enron. Blatant. No mercy. Once a lie is exposed, society has the will to vilify the perpetrators and to extract their confession.

A Study of Truth & Deception

As a child my elders posited my future in advertising. My wisdom of nine years replied, “Why would I work in a job that is about telling lies.” I had experienced the disappointment of the picture in the ad being better than the product inside the box. Another rule I picked up was: “Don’t trust show-offs. They only please themselves.” A business that exaggerates its delivery cannot be sustained.

As an adolescent, in order to get out of trouble, I learned that the most believable lie is the one that is closest to the truth. Marketers are often pressured to tell the ‘closest’ version of the truth to make their employers or clients succeed. I learned a law similar to the law of gravity when it comes to misleading people: the bigger the deception, the bigger the fall when the truth comes out. And the truth has a way of coming out. I won’t reveal the details of how I learned that lesson, but it was learned well. The more we mislead customers, the greater the repercussions we will have to endure.

At the age of 19 I came to the realization that, if I acted in good conscience, there would be no cause for deceit. As a customer-centric marketer for 11 years, and a career marketing professional of 20-something years, I am able to demonstrate to my clients that if a promise is not credible and deliverable to their audience, it is counterproductive to their objectives.

Putting Values on Truths

Honesty in marketing relationships is about truly representing and supporting what is important to each customer. Failure to deliver on a marketing promise is tantamount to a lie in the customer’s dictionary of business terminology. Your integrity is really defined by your commitment to the relationship. Any actions and statements that could prove damaging to the relationship need to be thought out ahead of time and revised.

The focus of customer-centric marketing is to understand truth from the customer’s perspective. Touch Marketing, the technique I practice within my studio, is the determination and communication of customer values (their truths) with emotional relevance and the demonstration of commitment to support those values. This is counter posed to the product (or brand) as ‘the hero’

By looking through the other end of the telescope I have come to realize that trust is what bonds a relationship, and honesty is the basic ingredient.

Touch Marketing is not just honest and emotionally relevant – it engenders attachment, loyalty, frequency and continuity within a marketing relationship. Experience is the truth the customer believes.

The next part of Honesty in Relationships will discuss how to shift perspective away from what the business inherently believes towards the customer perspective.

 

Written By |Advertising Truths, Customer Focus, Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Honesty in Relationships: Part I

If All the Raindrops Were Customers and Shareholders, Oh What a Joy That Would Be.

So who is “standing outside with his arms open wide”?

Great question.

I want to discuss the dichotomy between shareholders and customers:

Goals-oriented boards have their jobs hinging on leveraging maximum wealth to shareholders by producing the best financial results possible (within the realm of the law, so we are told). So the shareholder can actually compromise customer values based on the mandate they give to the executive.

If the shareholders were all individual customers were there might be some sort of democracy at the Annual Meeting, where the customer/shareholder would get to vote on whether they wanted 10% less product in the same packaging for the same price, or keep the product the way they need it and earn a lower dividend.

In the goals-oriented enterprise both ends are fighting the middle and compromises are felt at either end of the spectrum through customer attrition or shareholder revolt. The only way to beat the trap is technology. The advances in product shelf-life, time to market, distribution and communications infrastructure are seen through packaging, production engineering, product formulation, paperless communication et al. Technology is the most significant reason the wealth mountain keeps growing and that products keep pace or exceed current levels of customer expectations. Ironically, tech stocks are the most volatile for shareholders to invest. Just think of it as new snow hitting the peak. Avalanches happen from the top down. But I am going off at a tangent. In the goals-oriented business, if you don’t have your technology working for you then you can’t demonstrate increased competitive efficiencies to support quality merchandise or services at a convenient and affordable price.

In the customer-centric world I like to use the model of the local barber. Same chair, same scissors, same smile and customers that last for years. There is a way out of the rat-race and your customer is your best ally.

In order to maintain the balance of customer values and loyal retention, shareholders need to be put in touch with that customer-centric philosophy and review their expectations of short-term gain. We live in a day-trader mentality where there is no concept of loyalty. To the absolute contrary, the day-trader whizzes in and out of stocks without a thought of any consequences but his own. It is the antithesis of relationship building. I won’t dignify it with a metaphor because it verges on something crude. I don’t imagine a day-trader regards his customer relationship with any of the stocks he trades. I also doubt that a day-trader is as aggressive in his/her retail habits as they are in their stocks trades.

Can shareholders be in touch with a customer-centric philosophy? Absolutely. Shareholders are a different segment of the marketing audience. They are as responsive to the concept of one-to-one orbiting relationships, because that supports their own expectations. What they are not hearing is the customer-centric philosophy within the heart of the enterprise. A shareholder can comprehend the sense of the position only when it is communicated centrally to the goals of the corporation. A shareholder will extend their trust to a management vision, whatever it may be, for a period of time, to see what will come out. When the prediction fails to materialize then the bottom falls out.

What if loyalty, frequency and continuity were central to the management vision of the company, and they were able to demonstrate their success not just in dollars and cents. It takes a quantum leap out of the day-trader mentality to comprehend that a business that keeps its customers, can also keep its shareholders, even when it is not doing quite so well.

So the answer to the original question: who is standing outside with his arms open wide? It is the CEO who doesn’t have to compromise his customers to meet his shareholders expectations and doesn’t have to compromise his shareholders to support his customers’ values.

Wouldn’t that be something?

Written By |Customer Focus, Marketing Strategy, Uncategorized|Comments Off on If All the Raindrops Were Customers and Shareholders, Oh What a Joy That Would Be.

CORPORATE MASH-UPS CAN PROPEL YOUR BUSINESS THROUGH TOUGH TIMES

Corporate thinkers and marketing strategists wondering how best to navigate through turbulent economic downswings should turn their attention to non-competing products, where they can add customer convenience and value while reducing cost-of-sale.

Because, let’s face it, in this economy you have limited choices. You could: – Spend your money on restructuring consultants – Slash prices in the hope that keeping busy will hide your losses – Increase incentives and slash prices for even greater losses – Stare frozen into the headlights and wait for the inevitable…

Or be creative. Find more values to sell to your existing customers and enable them to do more with less.

Here are some examples:

B-2-B

Office Cleaning & Building Security – lower property management costs and improve on the cleaning staff integrity. Payroll Processing & Job Placement Agencies – as payroll fee income drops earn commissions on placements of the displaced staff, as well as increase reach for your payroll services.

Couriers & Food Services – fill up the water fountain/coffee machine while you pickup/drop-off the packages. Cut your cost of distribution and make margin on the sale of snacks.

Computer Manufacturers & Airlines – digital and physical connectivity from point-to-point, e.g. in-flight hookup to your virtual desktop, best price reservations to frequently-used, business destinations on the purchase of notebooks with extended warranties. Etc.

B-2-C

Toys & Tools – for the chip-off-the-old block, an incidental purchase for dads while they calculate how much drywall they need.

Fashion, Flowers & Gifts – you can surely trust your fashion stylist/boutique to know how to create the right bouquet or pot pourri for you.

Shoes & Socks – socks wear out more quickly than shoes. Shoe sellers should stock socks (say 10 times quickly) as a traffic driver and an incidental profit booster.

Home Entertainment Systems & Movie Studios – create a utopia of choice and a measurable market to forecast demand for in-home or out-of-home entertainment metrics. Etc., etc.

You can do this in a number of ways:

  • strategic partnerships
  • mergers
  • cross-promotions.

You have to care and share to make it work. And be customer-centric in bringing the value home to the customer, so that they can gain to ease their pain.

There are thousands of potential mash-up opportunities. These came to mind quickly, to make the point. Corporate mash-ups can be a low-cost, low-risk investment. Each party has control of its own customers. The strategy is to be customer-centric, to increase your value to your customer and reduce their total outlay for the same services. Unlike a straightforward customer promotion, a mash-up increases your reach into the market as your partner extends it to their customers. So your total market reach is expanded without additional marketing cost to you. It’s not a freebie, and the discount comes through real cost-efficiencies, not profit slashing.

Tangential thinking comes naturally in this business; so if you have a sense of the possibilities but no immediate notion of how to move it forward, call me.

 

Written By |Marketing Strategy|Comments Off on CORPORATE MASH-UPS CAN PROPEL YOUR BUSINESS THROUGH TOUGH TIMES

Selling the Environment With Customer-Centric Values

Since Canada’s political balance of power may weigh in on the environment in the near future, how does this monumental issue affect the day-to-day choices of Canadians?

Politics is all about customer-centric marketing. What the voter won’t buy, the politician won’t sell. The marketing of environmental issues and products has to factor a number of different perspectives that reside within voters and customers and bring conflicting values when making personal choices:

The pendulum swings back and forth:

– “It is the nature of humanity to turn land into garbage and garbage into land.” (Jon Sherrington, 2006). Not a pretty idea, but the drive for consumption does just that. Do we feel remorse? Yes and no. Consider a growing forest that chokes the land of sunlight and lives off its own decay. It creates an environment ideal for its living conditions and all other organisms adapt or die. Is the forest a problem or a solution? It is no different with humans. Humans expand and change the environment to suit themselves and in the process all other organisms adapt or die. Environmentalists want to limit this impact of change, and the general population focuses on the consumption it needs to sustain itself, regardless.

– Within the three constants: the sun, gravity and geothermal energy, our atmosphere is a contained bio-system in which whatever exists will return to its original state at some point in the future. Carboniferous trees can reproduce, crystallize, liquify or gasify. As implausible as it appears on the surface, the earth’s bio-system will not fail under any circumstances outside of sun, gravity and geothermal energy. This constancy insulates the human conscience from reacting to changes in the environment influenced by specific human intervention. Whatever we are doing is a pin-prick in the earth’s history. But that doesn’t mean it won’t change.

In a recent consumer poll conducted by a non-profit organization sponsored by IPSOS-Reid in 2006, the greatest number of Canadians cited the Environment as the biggest issue that will face Canadians 20 years from now. Why are we not seeing this survey response impact politically and in terms of consumer behavior today? Because the environmentalist lobby is not very good at customer-centric marketing. It has become associated with left-spectrum politics. This is strange. How can climate change and ecosystems be valued within a political spectrum when it affects us all?

The answer is because they don’t know how to sell it. In the macro-political view, the majority of consumer-voters really care more about growth than its consequences. This includes even those polled in the survey. Yet the influence we exert on our environment shapes the immediate aspect of our lives, not just the future.

If the politics could sell the environment better we wouldn’t see it pushed behind considerations of growth. But don’t expect politicians to be influenced by anything other than what people are buying – and people are still turning more land into garbage and more garbage into land. If marketers could sell the environment better, consumers would make environmental choices because these reflect their own values.

So it is a marketing challenge that speaks to the heart of customer-centric marketing – how to align products and services to those values that enable customers to achieve the growth they desire without consequence to the environment. As long as the majority of marketers are concerned with growth more than its consequences, customers will side with the majority and politicians likewise.

Written By |In the News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Selling the Environment With Customer-Centric Values

ENTITLEMENT AND THE FREEBY GENERATION

If civilized society has anything to gripe about concerning the psychology of the Next-Generation it is the notion of Entitlement. Everyone feels entitled to whatever they want. Whether it is media attention, petty theft, massive fraud, obscene public demonstrations, more pay for less work, or the calculated elimination of ‘whoever gets in my way’, the overbearing sense of “What’s right in my eyes, is not wrong” is at the core of a society overfed on a diet of Entitlement.

I was musing on the source of this growth of human failing and I arrived at the conclusion that it is We Marketers that have fed the beast. We took a youngling generation and bombarded them, not only with hyped-up aspirations, but also the tempting lure of anything FREE – the unearned reward offered for future gain. Nothing breeds a false sense of entitlement better than providing something for nothing to someone that has done nothing to deserve it. It is the classic case of the parent that spoils the child. And, if you consider carefully enough you will see that the lure of so many competing brands has been carved out of the ‘I’ll give it you for FREE’ promotion. To the extent that mortgages went sub-prime, and that Central Banks are actually contemplating PAYING interest to get you to borrow money in order to keep the economy liquid. The word FREE has become so common place in marketing that it has become a nickname for WORTHLESS.

So I was quite happy to see that Apple had reported its highest profit report in contradistinction to the World Economy having gone SPLAT. Nothing Apple sells is for free. The opposite is true. It sells at a premium and makes a healthy profit. Yet I have attended many conventions and read many marketing experts who say the best way to get your product out there is to offer it for FREE.

How to understand the paradox? It is not so simple as to say that a gift cheapens the giver. Or that entitlement cannot be resisted. A free trial will get the product into the customer’s hands. But then you start to lose control. There are two psychologies at work here. Entitlement and Ambition. If you think about it further, you will realize that these are polar opposites. Ambition is to strive for. Entitlement is to stagnate.

Apply a customer-centric marketing scenario: if the relationship is built on the customer’s Entitlement values, then you won’t find room for growth. Any improvements in service or quality will just feed Customer Entitlement and you will have to keep adding more value to maintain the current relationship, while cutting into your product margin. But, if you focus your marketing on your customer’s values of Ambition, then it drives you to innovation, invention and a means to grow the premium value of your product. This is how Apple is distinct from the other PC vendors.

We have known for a long time in marketing that price promotion kills margin and resets the bar of customer expectations to a lower level. But did we ever consider how we have bred a generation of entitlement sociopaths? The sense of entitlement over all material aspects of our society is deeply embedded. It is only the products that are the fruits of customer Ambition that can truly succeed without the ubiquitous FREE offer. Those products are the ones we want to pay more for. It satisfies our Ambition.

So what do you think? Is FREE a death word in marketing. Any takers?

Written By |Advertising Truths, B2C, Marketing Strategy, Uncategorized|Comments Off on ENTITLEMENT AND THE FREEBY GENERATION

Jon Sherrington

Owner, Strategist, Writer – Hydrogen Creative Inc.

May 1996 – Present

My role is to provide strategic marketing guidance to clients to ensure their objectives are attainable, remain in focus and the communications solutions work.

My expertise is in how to realign goals-oriented brands, products, services or businesses to customer values to build loyalty, frequency and continuity.